Denise Svenson is in the first generation of her family to attend college, and her life experience as the daughter of a steelworker has lit a passion to stand up for people. Her work as a teacher in Atlanta Public Schools opened her eyes to the effects of systematic racism and unequal opportunity. Denise’s teacher training and subsequent mentoring of new teachers and teacher-leaders has had a significant focus on culturally responsive pedagogy and setting high expectations for all students. Denise was a founding mentor teacher of the CREATE Teacher Residency Program, a model initiated at the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School in Atlanta, Georgia, with the goal of having a compassionate, skilled, anti-racist educator for every student and supporting people to stay in the teaching profession during the hardest initial years. Half of Denise’s twenty years of educational experience took place in Mandarin immersion schools, including teaching middle school math at Wesley International Academy, a charter school in Atlanta, Georgia; leading the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program Coordinator at Shu Ren School in Berkeley; and serving as the math specialist at International School of the Peninsula (now Silicon Valley International School) in Palo Alto. Denise joined the progressive, Mandarin immersion Presidio Knolls School in San Francisco in 2017 as the math specialist and served as the Head of Upper Elementary for the past four years.
Denise earned Bachelor of Science Building Sciences and Bachelor of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a Masters of Middle Grades Education at Mercer University. Post graduate work at Georgia State University led to a certification as a Teacher Support Specialist.